In Everybody’s Fine, Robert De Niro plays Frank Goode, an aging widower who invites his four adult kids for Christmas. He buys himself a grill, gets the best wine, and prepares everything. However, when he finds out that none of them could make it, he takes it upon himself to give a surprise visit to each of them, and see how they’re doing despite their assertion that they’re doing “just fine.” He takes the trains and buses as he cannot fly.
I do love road trip movies. You can always visit famous landmarks, but sometimes you appreciate the small areas a little more just because you remember a scene from a movie. While this isn’t that kind of movie, I’m reasserting the fact I like road movies. As I always say, road trip movies aren’t so much about the physical transportation as it is about the inner journey.
Robert De Niro, who has often played tough guys, gives a stand out performance in this film as the aging father who wasn’t as close to his kids as his late wife was. At his age, he probably shouldn’t be traveling alone, but I think this was also why it added so much poignancy to it. His portrayal feels very real—like most fathers, he wants the best for his children, despite the fact that they might not be as they seem. His performance brings the movie up a notch from being just good. The beautiful Kate Beckinsale (with fine American accent) and the cute Drew Barrymore as his daughters, Amy and Rosie, all turn in fine performances as well as Sam Rockwell, a musician with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. As the story unfolds, he finds out they’re keeping truths from him, which one can guess from the title.
The film really hit home for me, which is saying something. I’ve always found the best humor to be found in real life, no matter how hokey they can be for some. Kirk Jones’ tight direction and script proved this, and every scene brought a little something to the story and everyone had their own voice and personality. There even were subtle moments I found myself laughing out loud that I noticed others didn’t quite get. That’s not to say this movie is a comedy, although funny things do happen. Admittedly, I’m at the age much like the adult children in this film. Many of their thoughts and things they go through are pretty similar to my own, and my parents are quite similar to Frank, even the way he looks. This film won’t be for everybody and the really young ones may find it dull. I loved the ironic touches. There were even some great dramatic moments I thought were quite powerful. Yes, it’s also a bit of a tearjerker, but it all feels true to life, and more importantly, deserved.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the original Italian version of this film, which is highly considered by many, and now I wished I had seen it, as many critics who didn’t like this film have been comparing this to the previous version. I feel like one of those American critics who hailed The Departed as the greatest movie ever who never saw the original Hong Kong version called Infernal Affairs (which I personally enjoyed a little more). Nevertheless, the enjoyment of any film is affected by all kinds of factors, whether personal or otherwise, and I enjoyed this film greatly, at least enough to give this film **** out of **** stars.
This movie is currently playing at the dollar theaters at La Mirada Movies 7 and Woodbridge Movies 5 in Orange County.
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